This morning, in my usual routine, I sipped a cup of coffee while reading the latest news around the Open XML file formats. I have a few blogs I follow regularly, and I also usually do a few searches to see what has been written in various media.
The 30- day contradiction comment period for Open XML just came to a close this week, so there were several new articles and blog posts about the continuing ISO standards process. (For those who don't know, the contradiction comment period is when the "national bodies" (NBs) take a look at whether a proposed standard prevents use of any existing ISO/IEC/JTC1 standards, and if so they can submit their perceived contradiction to JTC1 for possible resolution. I'm not going to get into all of the procedural details here, but Brian Jones has a good overview if you're curious.)
Anyway, in following links between various articles and blog posts this morning I came across a piece by Andy Updegrove in which he wrote this: "According to one story, at least one of these countries (India) was considering responding by abstaining from voting, in protest over the extremely short amount of time provided to review the voluminous specification. Instead, it appears that it opted to knuckle down, finish its review, and submit contradictions instead."
Now, this piece rather surprised me. I happened to have returned from India less than 24 hours ago, and among other things, I was involved in some meetings and discussions with the people in India who have the responsibility of deciding whether to submit contradictions. I was very impressed with their thoroughness and interest in hearing all sides of the issues, and I certainly didn't know that they had submitted any contradictions to ISO.
Well, maybe Andy knows something I don't, or maybe he's just quoting somebody who got the facts wrong. There's been rather a lot of that getting-the-facts wrong stuff lately when it comes to file formats, you know. :-)
So I clicked on the link he provided, thinking I'd read about India "submitting contradictions" to ISO. But that article doesn't say any such thing! And in fact, when I followed the link I immediately recognized the article because I happen to have read it in New Delhi on Monday morning, a good 12 hours before India had responded to ISO on this matter. I remembered it because I got a good laugh out of the "against the human spirit" comment in it -- the Times of India never fails to make me laugh.
So let me get this right. Andy Updegrove makes up an Indian response to the ISO Fast-Track process, then to support his fabrication he links to an article that was published before India had even responded to ISO, and one which in any event makes no mention at all of India submitting a contradiction. And then, just to help get the word out, an IBM VP links to Andy's article to help him spread this fabrication. (Presumably they do it this way so that nobody at IBM is actually telling lies, they're just linking to the lies others tell on their behalf.)
Wow. Desperate times for IBM, it seems. And their respect for the ISO standards process is downright palpable, wouldn't you say?
By the way ... unlike Andy and his boosters, I won't actually discuss the details of what countries have filed during the 30-day comment period. That's not appropriate at this time, and certainly not appropriate for those who aren't actually speaking from firsthand knowledge. But I will say this: India's not the only misrepresentation on the list they're passing around today, by a long shot. It just happens to be the country where I've spent the last week, so I thought I'd comment on that specific one for now.
nice catch !!
The link on Andy's sight now points to a rather telling article of just how the Indian govt. really feels about OOXML. Perhaps a simple mistake was made by Andy? He has, after all, gone far and above most folks in collecting information about both ODF and OOXML.
I see that Andy has corrected his mistake. Based on your high-horse attitude and lack of respect for anybody who is not drinking the MS Kool-Aid I won't hold my breath waiting for you to write any kind of retraction or update to your article.
It's nice to see that all the astroturfers for MS have are ad hominem attacks on others, while folks like Andy have the opinions and decisions of whole nations to augment his position on standards and what the definition of Open is.
The link on Andy's site still points to the same article it always did, the one that says nothing about submitting contradictions. I don't know what you mean by "corrected his mistake" -- can you clarify what has been corrected?
I think you have misread Andy's article. He describes the Times of India story as suggesting that India would abstain from voting. He does not imply that he got from that article the information that India submitted contradictions.
On another topic, your palbable contempt and condescension for the Times, Andy, and anyone opposing MSOOXML offended me. Only after reading most of the article did I notice that you are an MSOOXML Evangelist posting on a Microsoft site. I guess that explains your attitude.
You talk of making up facts, desperation, lack of rescpect for ISO, and "boosters." Perhaps you are looking in a mirror?
I don't understand the outrage at all. Andy says the story linked to mentions India possibly abstaining in protest to the length of the spec and the short time to review it. The article does say something like that. Then Andy assumes that because India shows up on a list of countries which have submitted a contradiction, they've decided not to protest. What Andy says makes perfect sense to me. His list of countries may be wrong, but I doubt he's making it up. He got the list from somewhere and I think you are reading the sentence with the story link as his proof that India submitted a contradiction. He's only using the linked story as an example of the discord possibly created by having only 30 days to review a long document. Wow. I can't believe how you can read the simple things Andy wrote and stretch into a conspiracy backed by IBM to misinform!
Yes, I have quite a bit of contempt for those who have been spreading FUD about file formats lately and trying to convince people that having freedom to choose is a bad thing. And I have a hard time understanding what Andy is trying to accomplish in his post. Has he actually read the comments that were submitted? If so, then -- as will be obvious to everyone after those comments become public -- he has misrepresented their content. And if he has not actually read them, why does he say things like "most or all lodging formal contradictions with Joint Technical Committee 1," which is a very specific characterization of their content?
Yes, 30 days is a short time to read the entire Open XML spec. But as Andy surely knows, that's not what this 30-day period was about -- it was about identifying contradictions with existing ISO/IEC/JTC1 standards. The 5-month DIS ballot period is when the spec gets reviewed in technical detail. The claim that people have been put in the awkward position of having to review the entire spec in 30 days is something that has been repeated many times in recent writings from various people at IBM, and I'm disappointed to see Andy adding his voice to that chorus.
Thanks to those that understood what I wrote when I wrote it (and did not change). The author of the article I linked to says that India was considering abstaining - he wrote that, not me. My direct source - someone who knows of a certainty who filed responses, and did *not* abstain - supplied me with the information that India had, in fact responded. I doubt that I've been misinformed, and expect you to read confirmation of the information in due course at the JTC1 site.
So, unfortunately, the title of this blog entry (and its content) is unfair, inaccurate, and - oh yes - wrong.
Perhaps if its author truly has "quite a bit of contempt for those who have been spreading FUD about file formats," he'll retract his statements, and replace them with an apology.
That, of course, would only be the ethically consistent thing to do.
Thanks for commenting, Andy.
My point is that you didn't say that India <i>responded</i>, you said they had <i>submitted a contradiction</i>.
I respect your opinion, but I stand by what I've said. Like you, I believe a full exposition of the facts will prove me right.
Setting aside the question of what India did or didn't do, if you were told that these 19 countries all had negative things to say about Open XML then I believe you will appear to have been misled when the facts come out. And I continue to have contempt for those who engage in such campaigns, regardless of whether you've been a victim or perpetrator.
I know nothing of what's going on here, so I'll leave it for others. But I'd like to comment on one thing you said above :
"Yes, I have quite a bit of contempt for those who have been spreading FUD about file formats lately and trying to convince people that having freedom to choose is a bad thing."
Can you name two products that can render Office 2007 documents?
PS : the point of the question is of course that, by fast-tracking all this stuff, it is obvious that Microsoft has actually called for contempt in the first place rather than allowing a competing vendor to have the time to come and play fairly. Ideally, if there is a non-Microsoft vendor that can render Office 2007 documents (accurately of course), then it is a perfectly fair review of specs being pushed to become so-called international standards.
No, Stephane, I can't at this time. And I think that's an appropriate subject of debate, as is the University of Central Florida's test suite that demonstrates there are not two separate implementations of ODF that will render anything more than the simplest of documents in a consistent fashion.
What I don't think we should be debating at this time is how to best characterize the status of the private inner workings of the JTC1 process. I'd rather let the process run its course, with public disclosure coming at the appropriate times rather than through leaks.
Funny, you don't seem to be down on Brian Jones for the same offenses as Andy Updegrove! He too is describing "the status of the private inner workings of the JTC1 process."
Doug, your blog article states:
<blockquote>(For those who don't know, the contradiction comment period is when the "national bodies" (NBs) take a look at <u>whether a proposed standard prevents use of any existing ISO/IEC/JTC1 standards</u>, and if so they can submit their perceived contradiction to JTC1 for possible resolution. I'm not going to get into all of the procedural details here, but <a href="http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/archive/2007/01/29/explanation-of-the-iso-fast-track-process.aspx">Brian Jones has a good overview</a> if you're curious.)</blockquote>
Given your expressed interest in accuracy, you might consider informing your readers that you and Brian Jones unquestionably have spread inaccurate information on the purpose of the contradiction mechanism at JTC-1.
Neither you nor Brian has so much as mentioned that there is international law defining the scope of a proper contradiction, so I suspect you were not aware of the law. Moreover, I have information that Microsoft convinced ANSI-INCITS not to file a contradiction based on the same unquestionably erroneous meaning of "contradiction" in the ISO JTC-1 process. With your concern for accuracy, I hope that you might carry the ball to let the folks at INCITS know Microsoft's legal advice was wrong.
You can find my thorough legal analysis of this issue, with citations and links to the relevant law, in my article entitled, <a href="http://opendocument.xml.org/node/238">"The case for a valid contradiction of Microsoft Office Open XML at ISO has not been rebutted."</a> In summary, according to the international Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade article 2 section 2.2, the national bodies are <u>required</u> to contradict any fast track proposal that was "prepared ... with a view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade."
That legal issue was briefed in the <a href="http://www.grokdoc.net/index.php/EOOXML_objections#Introduction_and_Summary">introduction of the Groklaw document</a> laying out grounds for contradiction of fast track processing of the Microsoft/Ecma draft standard. Microsoft has yet to respond under the correct legal criteria, which is why I concluded that the case for contradicting Ecma 376 stands unrebutted. I certainly hope that Microsoft will address its formal responses to the national standards bodies' contradictions to the correct legal criteria.
The correct legal issue is whether Ecma 376, if adopted as an International Standard, would grant Microsoft a competitive advantage not equally available to all vendors. One need go no further than the fact that Ecma 376 fails to include the specifications for the binary formats to conclude that all of that claimed compatibility with the binary formats is for the benefit of a single vendor, Microsoft.
Since that compatibility is the underlying premise for all Ecma justifications offered Ecma 376's adoption as an International Standard, it is plain that Ecma 376 would confer on Microsoft an exclusive monopoly on migrating the binary formats to Ecma 376 formats, the very purpose of Ecma 376. That is plainly an "unnecessary obstacle to international trade." Therefore, if for no other reason, <a href="http://opendocument.xml.org/node/238">"The case for a valid contradiction of Microsoft Office Open XML at ISO has not been rebutted."</a>
My article also cites and quotes the law establishing that Microsoft's "freedom of choice in file formats" position is forbidden by international law. You adopted the same argument in your comment on this page where you spoke of "having freedom to choose."
Leaving aside the fact that is an argument which would only make sense to someone who has no understanding of the barriers to software interoperability posed by inconsistent file formats for the same software functionality, 103 nations of the world have agreed by international treaty that you are wrong, that there <u>must</u> be only one International Standard for given software functionality.
So I hope you might correct that misstatement in your article as well. I am truly sorry that you have been deceived by the Microsoft spin doctors, but these issues are far too important to be resolved on the basis of anything but accurate information, as I am sure you will agree.
By the way, Andy Updegrove <a href="http://www.consortiuminfo.org/standardsblog/article.php?story=2007020812133683">has responded</a> to your criticism, making it clear that he got the list of contradicting nations from JTC-1 and that JTC-1 has now published a revised list adding another country (Italy) that was inadvertently left off the first list, so the total is now up to 20 nations. Unless you have different information, you might consider making an apology for your <u>ad hominem</u> attack on Andy, which was a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem#Ad_hominem_as_logical_fallacy">logical fallacy</a> in any event.
I have saved a copy of this post's text, so that there is a record you have been made aware of these facts. I sincerely hope it will not become necessary to to prove that fact and that you will correct the errors in your article and comment.
(a retired lawyer in the U.S.)
<blockquote>No, Stephane, I can't at this time. And I think that's an appropriate subject of debate, as is the University of Central Florida's test suite that demonstrates there are not two separate implementations of ODF that will render anything more than the simplest of documents in a consistent fashion.</blockquote>
I think you confuse the ODF standard with its implementations. You also wildly exaggerate the extent of the remaining differences in rendering by OpenOffice.org and KOffice. Perhaps you might provide a link to the results of the tests you refer to? Full interoperability is not an easy task. It takes time for developers to implement it. At least the OOo and KOffice developers are tackling the problem and have achieved far better results than the Microsoft-Clever Age plugin does in either direction.
Of course, Microsoft might consider abandoning the secrecy of its APIs for converting its binary file formats to Ecma 376 as well as disclosing the specifications for the binary formats, which are still used by the major Office apps for their internal processing.
Those disclosures would be wholly appropriate for a company whose spinmeisters paint it as a champion of software interoperability. That is especially so because: [i] the disclosure of those items has been required for several years by antitrust orders in both the U.S. and in Europe; [ii] Microsoft now wants Ecma 376 adopted as an International Standard for migrating files in those formats to Ecma 376 formats. Ecma 376 is not open because of Microsoft's refusal to disclose those formats and APIs.
I am told by OpenDocument Foundation developers that they could quickly finish their Microsoft Office plugin to provide full interoperability between Microsoft Office and OOo if Microsoft disclosed the specifications for its binary file formats.
May I respectfully suggest that interoperability is an issue that Microsoft can not win given its lack of cooperation in enabling full interoperability between MS Office and ODF applications? Particularly given that Steve Ballmer himself has said the Microsoft-Clever Age plugin will not provide full interoperability between MS Office and ODF apps? Particularly given Microsoft's track record in concealing the information needed to develop full interoperability?
your not the captain of this sinking ship
Regarding accuracy of the definition of contradiciton, the only thing that's relevant is what it says in the JTC 1 directive on this matter. I've seen your analysis suggesting otherwise, with the appropriate caveat in its final sentence ("Nothing in this article is intended or should be understood as legal advice.") You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but that doesn't change the actual JTC directive.
Regarding Andy's comments, I think you're conveniently blurring the line between comment and contradiction, but I won't get involved in discussion of the content of comments submitted. It's disappointing that some feel a need to go there, rather than respectiing the defined process and letting it take its course, and this is the last I'll respond to speculation about the content of the comments. Time will tell, and the truth will take care of itself.
Here's a link to the University of Southern California's test suite comparing KOffice and OpenOffice's implementations of ODF. Over 300 specific differences are identified. I'm not a lawyer like yourself, but it's not clear to me how my comment that these hundreds of differences demonstrate that "there are not two separate implementations of ODF that will render anything more than the simplest of documents in a consistent fashion" is a "wild exaggeration."
> I am told by OpenDocument Foundation developers that they could quickly finish their > Microsoft Office plugin to provide full interoperability between Microsoft Office and OOo > if Microsoft disclosed the specifications for its binary file formats.
So they could quickly make the plugin work with the binary formats, even though they don't know the details of those formats, but can't make it work with Open XML, which has 6000 pages of published and publicly reviewed documentation? Interesting.
Feel free to save copies of whatever you'd like, I stand by everything I've said.